The injury can have your little athlete sitting on the sidelines. ACL tears normally require surgery, and the rate of injury has skyrocketed by nearly 400 percent in adolescents over the past 15 years. Now see how a new technique is protecting children’s knees and getting them back to the sports they love!
“I like to play soccer, basketball, I like to run a lot,” said Matthew Lefkowitz
Like most eleven-year- old’s, Matthew Lefkowitz was super active, until the day he tore his ACL playing soccer.
He shared, “It was really painful. I was crying a lot.”
In most cases, doctors recommend surgery to reconstruct the ligament that provides crucial stability to the knee. But when it comes to children, it’s important to protect their growth plates.
Jeremy Frank, MD, a Pediatric Sports Medicine Surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital said, “So you don’t injure them, causing one leg to be longer than the other, or even grow at an abnormal angle.”
That’s why Dr. Frank is using a specialized technique to rebuild a child’s ACL.
Dr Frank explained, “we’re taking a strip of tissue from the side of the thigh, that tissue is called the iliotibial band, or IT band.”
The surgeon then wraps that tissue around the thighbone, through the knee, and stitches it into the top of the shin bone.
“Therefore, we’re not drilling any holes whatsoever in the bones, and not risking any injury to the growth plate,” Dr. Frank said.
Of course, Matthews mom, Nina Lefkowitz, was still worried when her son went in for surgery.
“Would he come out and be able to play and run the same way he always did?” said Nina.
A year late Matthew is back on the field!
“I recently just got cleared by Dr. Frank that I don’t need any brace anymore to play sports,” said Matthew.
He wants other kids not to be scared if they need ACL surgery: “I feel great. I feel like it never happened.”
Getting kids back to the sport they love.
The recovery is still the same as any ACL procedure: physical therapy for up to five months and light activity like swimming or biking three months after surgery. Most kids are back to their sport of choice within a year after the injury. Frank said the re-rupture rate in children is between five and 10 percent.